Ingrafted Branches, Rom. 11:11-24
Why do we present such a study from the book of Romans? Does this classify as devotional material? It is my purpose to make known the beauty of the gospel message from this inspired letter. It is deep material, but Paul knew people could understand his message. It takes effort, but the result is worth it. We are rapidly approaching chapter 12, where Paul begins to forcefully make practical application of the material in chapters 1-11. Thank you so much for continuing to read the Book of books, and for joining us in this “devotional” study.
In this section Paul addresses Gentile Christians at Rome and beyond (11:13). God’s plan of salvation involved rejection of physical Israel as his chosen people, but they could still be included in those chosen spiritually. We say it again, salvation is for all. In the early days of the Gospel age, Jews increasingly rejected the gospel, leading the apostles and evangelists to devote more time to Gentiles who would listen. Israelites/Jews became envious of the Gentiles, but their envy was not justified. The fall of the Jews resulted in widespread salvation of the Gentiles. God works his plan to perfection.
Now Paul warns Gentile Christians to not become proud. God had punished the Jews and he would also punish Gentiles who became proud and disobedient. Their inclusion did not mean the complete and final exclusion of Jews. Those who were “not a people” were now among the people of God (1 Pet. 2:10). But that did not mean they should look with disdain upon the Jews. God had not written off the Jews. God hoped and Paul hoped that Gentile obedience to the gospel would stir the Jews to look more closely at the gospel and accept Jesus as the Christ. They had been God’s chosen people of the Old Testament and they could be among the chosen of the New Testament. The gospel had first been preached to them for a reason (Rom. 1:16-17). They had been prepared for 1500 years to accept the Messiah and his kingdom.
Paul employs the illustration of the olive tree to make his point to the Gentiles. Caring for an olive tree involves pruning and grafting. In this way a more hardy and productive tree is developed. The fall of Israel resulted in God pruning them from the tree in order to graft in the Gentiles. But the Jews were the natural branch and could also be grafted back in at the pleasure of the vinedresser. Will there come a time when most Jews turn to Jesus? There is absolutely no promise of this in Scripture. The Jews are always welcome, but only by obedience. Proponents of premillennialism teach that Israel as a whole may be saved in conjunction with Jesus’ return. This is making too much of what Paul writes in this section and the next.
A word of caution for us. When we speak of Jews rejecting and killing Jesus, we are referring to a certain generation. A few among many. To develop spite for a race of people because of the actions of the Jews of Jesus’ day is unjustified. Anti-Semitism, or hatred for Jews, is yet another insidious form of prejudice and racism. Jews of our day are equal to all other people. Everyone sins, yet everyone who obeys Jesus can be saved. It is by grace that God saves us from our sins. No one can boast. Let us not be proud but stand in awe and be grateful and careful.
My comments are not an inspired commentary, but rather a few words to draw attention to the background, context, and dynamic situation of the book of Acts. May God bless your reading of His Word. T.C.